A domestic dispute turned deadly inside a Kenner home Tuesday morning when a woman fatally shot her estranged husband, police said.

Melissa Desilva, 34, shot Lyndell Desilva, 38, after he beat her with a handgun and racked its slide, making it ready to shoot, said Sgt. Brian McGregor, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.

Relatives told investigators that Lyndell Desilva’s death ended a relationship that had long been abusive.

The couple had been together for about 16 years and were married for 12, McGregor said. Recently, though, they decided to separate. A search of Jefferson Parish court records found no petitions for a divorce. Family members said the two had talked about beginning a formal separation process but had not done that, according to McGregor.

Lyndell Desilva moved into his own apartment about two months ago but still had a key to the couple’s home in the 2400 block of Kentucky Avenue.

He arrived there about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and let himself in, McGregor said.

“What brought him to the house, no one really knows,” McGregor said.

Brian Grant, a friend of Lyndell Desilva, said he was with him a short time before the shooting and for much of that time Desilva was talking about his four children.

“All he kept talking about was his kids,” Grant told WWL-TV. “He wanted to spend more time with his kids.”

Once inside the home, according to police, Lyndell and Melissa Davis got into a shouting match that quickly turned physical, with Lyndell choking his wife.

One of the couple’s children called police about the fight and reported hearing gunfire, McGregor said.

Officers arrived minutes later and found the children — ages 4, 10, 12 and 14 — outside and Lyndell Desilva on the floor of a hallway near the master bedroom with his wife trying to render aid, McGregor said.

The couple’s children told police that after their father choked their mother, he went to his car and grabbed a gun.

Back inside, he struck her across the face with it and racked the slide, police said. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter tried to intervene but was not able to calm the dispute. Melissa Desilva was able to grab her own gun and opened fire on her husband, police said.

Lyndell Desilva was taken to Interim LSU Hospital in New Orleans, where he was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds, said Mark Bone, the Jefferson Parish coroner’s chief investigator.

McGregor said Melissa Desilva was cooperating with detectives and was distraught to learn she had mortally wounded her husband.

“She said she didn’t mean for this to happen. She was only trying to scare him,” McGregor said. “She made it perfectly clear she was the one who shot him.”

Family members told investigators there was a history of domestic violence at the home, according to McGregor. Police, however, had not visited the house previously, he said.

Melissa Desilva did not want to get her husband in trouble by reporting any abuse, relatives told investigators.

Police said she had faint bruising on her arms and shoulders and fresh scratches on her face, apparently from Tuesday’s fight.

Police did not make an arrest in the homicide. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office will review the case, McGregor said.

The couple’s children are now in the custody of Melissa Desilva’s parents, McGregor said. Counseling services will be arranged.

Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.